Australians do love a good food festival. From regional gems like The Taste of Tasmania to Margaret River Gourmet Escape, diehard eaters have a litany of opportunities to revel in Australia’s great produce and chow down on food made by some of the brightest culinary talent from here and abroad.
This weekend marks Melbourne Food & Wine’s 26th year of bringing delicious things to the masses, but with around 287 events being held over nine days, how the hell does one decide?
It’s only fitting that the festival kicks off with the aptly titled World’s Longest Lunch. This year, the hallmark event leaves the city for the first time since 1992; last year’s Lygon Street event was presided over by dearly departed Italian culinary legend Antonio Carluccio. This year, 1,700 diners will have the opportunity to stretch their legs by the banks of the Maribyrnong River at a 500m long table and be treated to a banquet feast created by Jerry Mai (Pho Nom, Annam), Adam D’Sylva and Kay-Lene Tan from Melbourne’s Tonka and Coda.
Designed to celebrate the city and surrounds as much as its culinary talent, Melbourne locals and visitors alike should treat the festival as an invitation to explore the suburbs and its regional food bowls. Just 90 minutes out of the city, diners will discover just how vital the Bellarine is to Victoria’s food culture, at 10k Gourmet.
Hosted at Jack Rabbit Vineyard, the event showcases cuisine sourced from within a 10km radius of the vineyard. Cheesemaker Corinne Blackett of Drysdale Cheeses, who collaborates with celebrated chefs like Aaron Turner from Igni says, “Drysdale Cheeses have contributed to MFWF events for the past few years now; it’s a great way to showcase what we do on our beautiful peninsula. I love plotting with chefs to produce dishes that make the Bellarine shine. Can’t wait!”
Chefs Ashley Davis, Sascha Rust (Copper Pot Seddon), Rosa Mitchell (Rosa’s Canteen) and Slowfood Melbourne teamed for a cocktail-style event within sardine fisherman Phil McAdams' boatshed, spotlighting the seafood available from Port Phillip Bay, one of Victoria's most important bays from a foodie perspective. Cook the Bay has now passed.
Back in the city, anyone who thinks that barbecues, Tex Mex tacos and tequila sounds like a good idea (and quite frankly, who doesn’t?), will be at Footscray’s BBQ Block Party. The brainchild of fine dining chef and BBQ fiend Chris Watson (Cutler & Co, Bistro Luxembourg) is collaborating with Footscray newcomer Harley & Rose on March 25. Watson says, “It’s going to kick ass because Italian-inspired tacos, Italo disco tunes, frozen margaritas and 250 people is the right way to throw a party.” …and who are we to argue with that logic?
Here are some events to check out at this year’s MFWF are:
A Night with Alejandro Saravia
Melba Restaurant will team with Peruvian cuisine poster boy Alejandro Saravia (Morena, The Fat Duck) for a pop-up event shining the light on South American flavours.
Thur 15 Mar
The Langham, Melbourne, Southbank
An Ethiopian Banquet
No cutlery is needed for this relaxed communal banquet centring on stews mopped up with the national spongey, sourdough staple: injera.
Fri 16 – Fri 23 Mar
Konjo Café, Footscray
Dinner at Our House with Anthony Myint
Head chef of San Francisco cult favourite Mission Chinese Food and sustainably-minded The Perennial, Anthony Myint is hosting a sustainable dinner series at the House of Food and Wine Hotel, teaming with chefs-in-residence Matt Stone and Jo Barrett.
Mon 19 Mar – 6:30pm – 10:30pm
House of Food and Wine – Hotel Melbourne
United Nations of Dumplings
Take a trip around the world via dumplings. South Yarra’s Oriental Tea House is bringing the wider Melbourne community under the one roof for a two-hour dumpling deg.
Mon 19 – Wed 21 Mar
Oriental Tea House, South Yarra
Aboriginal Fitzroy: Tour & Dinner Experience
Charcoal Lane and Melbourne Aboriginal Youth & Sports Recreation (MAYSAR) are partnering to offer a 30-minute walking tour of Aboriginal Fitzroy followed by a three course meal spotlighting native Australian produce. Between courses, a local Elder will present a reflection on how the meal and region connects to Fitzroy. A portion of proceeds will go towards community programs supported by MAYSAR.
Tue 20 – Thur 22 Mar
Charcoal Lane, Fitzroy
16 - 25 March, 2018
Head to their website for the full program of events.
Lead image: Slow Food Melbourne